Ex-CJI Gogoi Nominated to RS: Confluence of Judiciary and Politics

Ranjan Gogoi

President Ramnath Kovind has nominated Former Chief Justice of India Ranjan Gogoi to Rajya Sabha. Congress criticized the move and said that it might affect the reputation of the judiciary.

Crux of the Matter

Ranjan Gogoi served as the Chief Justice of India from October 3rd, 2018 to November 17th, 2019. After nearly 5 months of his retirement, in an unprecedented move, he has been nominated to be a member of the Upper House of the Parliament. The opposition was of the opinion that the move would jeopardize the ‘impartiality’ of the judiciary.

Yashwant Sinha, former BJP leader, hoped that ‘the CJI would say no to the offer, otherwise it would do incalculable damage to the reputation of the judiciary.’

Case of Judiciary and the Government
This is the first time a judiciary member is crossing the line of the legislature for a Rajya Sabha seat, but few members have crossed that line in the past for other positions.

  • MC Chagla served as Chief Justice of the Bombay High Court from 1947 to 1958. In 1958, he was appointed as India’s ambassador to the US. He was also the High Commissioner to the UK, Minister of Education, and Minister of External Affairs, in his later years. Gap post-retirement – 0 years.
  • Justice Baharul Islam, formerly a Rajya Sabha member between 1962 to 1972, served the apex court from 1980 to 1983. He became a Rajya Sabha member again in 1983 and served till 1989. Gap post-retirement – 0 years.
  • Justice KS Hegde served the judiciary from 1967-1973. In 1977, he was elected for the Lok Sabha seat from Bangalore. He served as the Speaker of the Lok Sabha from 1977 to 1980. Gap post-retirement – 4 years.
  • In 1979, former CJI Hidayatullah became the Vice President of India. However, he had retired as CJI in 1970. Gap post-retirement – 9 years.
  • After his retirement in 1991, former CJI Ranganath Mishra had joined the Congress in 1998. Gap post-retirement – 7 years
  • In 2014, former CJI P. Sathasivam was appointed as the Governor of Kerala after his retirement in 2013. Gap post-retirement – 1 year.
  • In 2017, CJI TS Thakur was offered Rajya Sabha seat by the Aam Aadmi Party. He denied the offer.

Former BJP leader, late Arun Jaitley at a conference said that there should be an adequate cooling period – preferably 2 years – before a retired judge is offered a position. He said, “For two years after retirement there should be a gap (before appointment), because otherwise the government can directly or indirectly influence the courts and the dream to have an independent, impartial and fair judiciary in the country would never actualize. I say this with a lot of responsibility that even before they retire, it is decided for the Supreme Court and High Court judges as to which Commission they will go and join.”

Curiopedia

Former CJI Ranjan Gogoi is the son of politician Kesab Chandra Gogoi. His brother Retired Air Marshal Anjan Gogoi was appointed as a full-time non-official member of the North Eastern Council in January. He is known for leading the 5-judge Supreme Court Bench that gave a verdict on Ayodhya Temple-Babri Masjid Land Dispute case. He, along with three other SC judges, held a press conference in which he and other judges had said that ‘the judiciary needs to be protected, else democracy will not survive in this country.’ They also raised the issue of the allocation of cases in the court. In April 2019, he was accused of sexual harassment by a co-working woman. He was given a clean chit by a 3-judge SC bench. More Info

Violent Anti-CAA Protests Hover Over Peaceful Babri Deal

On February 24, the Sunni Central Waqf board accepted the five-acre land offered by the UP government to construct the Babri Masjid after the Supreme Court judgment in the Ayodhya case. The much sensitive Ayodhya – Babri Case has not sparked any violence after the verdict, whereas CAA has spread apprehension among Muslims, bringing them out on the streets. Sporadic incidents of hate speech and violence were witnessed in Delhi, Gujarat, and Bangalore in the backdrop of Trump’s 2-day visit to India.

Crux of the Matter

Babri Remains Peaceful
Uttar Pradesh Sunni Central Waqf Board announced that along with the mosque they will be building an Indo-Islamic research centre, a hospital. and a library on the site. The allotted plot is located at Dhannipur village in Ayodhya’s Sohawal area which is about 20-25 km from the Ram Temple & Ayodhya-Lucknow highway. Board Chairman Zufar Farooqui informed that the board will set up a trust soon for the construction of the mosque.

It has been decided at a meeting of the board to take the five-acre land given to us by the UP government.

– Zufar Farooqi, Waqf Board Chairman

The litigants were of the opinion that the land was too far from the town which will be difficult for people to travel there to offer Namaz and thus earlier had asked the UP government to reconsider their decision.

Polarization on Point
The Hindu-Muslim topics have always been politicized and especially this particular case has always been a sensitive issue in the country resulting in fierce debates, rivalry, fights and violence over the decades. But the way this verdict was accepted and welcomed not only by both the parties but by the millions of people across the country in a peaceful manner set an example that proved our belief in our constitution and moreover the strength in India’s diversity.

Even though only a few months ago in its true sense, India depicted its culture of ‘Vasudhaiva Kutumbakam‘ after the Ayodhya verdict, the nation is witnessing numerable violent protests not only from Muslim communities but also from university and college students against the recently passed Citizenship Amendment Act, proposed NRC, and NPR.

Unrest a Test on Trump’s Visit
Incidents of gun firings and stone peltings on police officers in the capital city of Delhi have spurred the issue again. Over and above this, AIMIM leader Waris Pathan recently made a controversial statement at an anti-CAA rally in Bengaluru, 15 crore hain lekin 100 crore pe bhari hain” (translation: we are 15 crore but can take on 100 crore). Slogans raised at public rallies have resulted in inciting more violence and disrupting the peace and harmony in the nation.

The protests at Shaheen Bagh by Muslim women, clashes with students at JNU, Jamia Milia and now the most recent clash between pro and anti-CAA groups on February 24 at Maujpur, Karawal Nagar, Babarpur, and Chand Bagh have resulted in the loss of four civilians and a 42-year old police constable called Ratan Lal. Police resorted to lathi-charge as protestors vandalized and torched public and private property.

During the clash, a man named Shahrukh fired 8 rounds from his country-made pistol. He is later seen intimidating an unarmed policeman on the Maujpur-Jaffrabad road.

The protests are not only having a major impact on day to day life of common people due to the closure of metro lines and blockages of highways but also is creating an environment of fear and resulting in heavy loss of public property.

Few days ago, a woman named Amulya Leona was charged with Sedition for raising the slogan of ‘Pakistan Zindabad‘ at an Anti-CAA rally in Bengaluru.

All these events are happening at a crucial time when US President Donald Trump is on a 2-day state visit to India and is present in Delhi for bilateral talks. Union Home Minister Amit Shah has held urgent high-level meetings to control the situation and has issued orders for police to take necessary actions to establish law and order.

Curiopedia

Central Waqf Council, India is an Indian statutory body established in 1964 by the Government of India under Waqf Act, 1954 for the purpose of advising it on matters pertaining to working of the State Waqf Boards and proper administration of the Waqfs in the country. Waqf is a permanent dedication of movable or immovable properties for religious, pious or charitable purposes as recognized by Muslim Law, given by philanthropists. The Council is headed by a Chairperson, who is the Union Minister in charge of Wakfs. Presently there are thirty Wakf Boards across the country in twenty-eight states/Union territories. More Info

Shaheen Bagh protests are an ongoing continuous sit-in peaceful protest, led by women, that began in response to the passage of the Citizenship (Amendment) Act (CAA) and the ensuing police intervention against students at Jamia Millia Islamia who were opposing the Amendment. Protesters have agitated not only against the citizenship issues of the CAA, National Register of Citizens (NRC) and National Population Register (NPR), but also against police brutality, rising costs of commodities, increasing unemployment and poverty, and for women’s safety. Mainly consisting of Muslim women, the protesters at Shaheen Bagh, since 15 December 2019, have blocked a major highway in New Delhi using non-violent resistance for over 65 days. More Info

PM Modi Announces Ram Temple Trust Ahead of Delhi Elections

Model of proposed Ram Temple in Ayodhya

PM Narendra Modi, in Parliament, announced that the Cabinet has given its nod to the formation of the Ayodhya’s Ram Temple Construction Trust. His announcement came when only 4 days were left for the Supreme Court-mandated period to lapse and with Delhi Election just around the corner.

Crux of the Matter

Ayodhya Land Dispute History
Ayodhya Land dispute, also called Ramjanmabhoomi – Babri Masjid Case, can be traced back to a time before 1853 when the first communal clash was reported at the site. It exacerbated when in 1949 idols of Ram were placed inside the Babri Mosque, leading to the filing of civil suits from both parties. According to local tradition, the Babri Mosque, also called Masjid-i-Janmasthan, was built by demolishing Ram Temple.

The dispute reached a crescendo in 1992 when the movement of Hindu organizations culminated in Kar Sevaks destroying the Babri Mosque. It led to communal riots.

On 9 November 2019, Supreme Court of India (SC) pronounced that the disputed land will be given to a Hindu Trust for the construction of the Ram Temple. Sunni Waqf Board would be given 5-acre land in a separate location to construct a mosque. SC based this on ASI’s evidence that a temple lies beneath the mosque. SC also gave the government time of three months to form the temple trust.

Announcement of Temple Trust
On 5 February 2020, PM Modi announced the formation of temple trust in Parliament. The trust that will be called ‘Shri Ram Janambhoomi Teerth Shetra‘ will receive 67.7 acres of land including 2.77 acres of the disputed territory.

PM Modi in Parliament announcing the construction of Ram Temple Trust

The trust will consist of the following 15 members: Trustee of Ayodhya K Parasaran who had represented Ram Lalla in the case, Jagadguru Madvacharya Swami Prasannateerth, Jagadguru Shankaracharya Swami Vasudevanand Saraswati, Emperor of Ayodhya, Raja Vimlendra Mohan Pratap Mishra, Swami Govind Dev Giri Maharaj, Yugpurush Parmanand Maharaj, Kameshwar Chaupal, Mahant Dinendra Das (no voting rights), other two Hindu members who will be nominated by board of trustees, District Magistrate of Ayodhya or Sub DM, if DM is not Hindu, and one IAS member who will be nominated by the Centre.

Home Minister Amit Shah later added that one Dalit member will always have a representation in the 15-member committee.

Uttar Pradesh CM Yogi Adityanath made an announcement that 5 acres of land near Raunahi, which is 30 kilometers away from Ayodhya, has been allotted to Sunni Central Waqf Board. Iqbal Ansari, a stakeholder in the case said that the government should not have given the land this far as it is too far to visit for a namaz.

This is an insult of emotions and mockery of justice.

– Jafaryaab Jilani, Babari Masjid Action Committee Advocate

Comments on the Decision
Announcement of temple trust comes when only a handful of days are left for Delhi Elections. The announcement also came when only 4 days were left to follow the Supreme Court’s mandate of forming a temple trust.

Some people are asking about the timing. There is no right time for good work.

– Delhi CM, Arvind Kejriwal

AIMIM leader Asaduddin Owaisi urged Sunni Waqf Board to not accept the 5-acre land and said that PM Modi had violated the Model Code of Conduct.

Session of Parliament will end on February 11, the announcement could have come after February 8. Seems like BJP is worried.

– AIMIM leader, Asaduddin Owaisi

Election Commission officials clarified that the PM’s announcement was not a violation of the Model Code of Conduct as the Supreme Court-mandated final date was approaching on 9 February and that Delhi Election is a state election.

Curiopedia

EC of India’s Model Code of Conduct is a set of guidelines issued by the Election Commission of India for conduct of political parties and candidates during elections mainly with respect to speeches, polling day, polling booths, portfolios, election manifestos, processions and general conduct. These set of norms has been evolved with the consensus of political parties who have consented to abide by the principles embodied in the said code in its letter and spirit. The Model Code of Conduct comes into force immediately on announcement of the election schedule by the commission for the need of ensuring free and fair elections. Its main purpose is to ensure that ruling parties, at the Centre and in the States, do not misuse their position of advantage to gain an unfair edge. It is designed to avert practices which are deemed corrupt under model code of conduct . For example, politicians should not make hate speeches, putting one community against another or make promises about new projects that may sway a voter. More Info

2019 Modi Mantra for Muslims

2019 has witnessed some reforms centered around the Muslims of India. If Triple Talaq and Education & Haj Schemes lifted the spirits of the Muslim Community, Abrogation of Article 370, Ram Janmabhoomi – Babri Masjid Land Dispute, and Citizenship Amendment Act, 2019 may have balanced out the sentiments of the community. Let us dive deeper into how different policies, acts, and decisions shaped the outlook.

Crux of the Matter

Triple Talaq Criminalised
Family Affairs of the Muslim Community of India are governed by Muslim Personal Law. Triple Talaq or Talaq-e-biddat is a practice pronounced in the Sharia Law. Muslim marriages permit divorce if either spouse announces ‘Talaq’ thrice. There have been contentious issues revolving around the time that ought to be given between each announcement, the right of Muslim women to pronounce Triple Talaq, and the responsibility of the financial security of the family. Historically, Ulamas – Muslim scholars – have held opposing views about it. Some modern-day Muslim scholars have said that despite being hollow on legal grounds, this law is binding. We must note that Triple Talaq is banned in Islamic countries like Pakistan, Saudi Arabia, etc.

Supreme Court, in 2017, rendered the practice of Triple Talaq unconstitutional. 2 members, who opposed the ban on Triple Talaq, of the 5-judge bench had, however, recommended that the decision be passed as a law in the Parliament. On 26 July 2019, Muslim Women (Protection of Rights on Marriage) Bill was passed. It stated that “instant Triple Talaq” announced in whatever form – written, spoken or via Email or SMS, will be considered illegal and stand void. The husband, who announced it, could be imprisoned up to three years.

This law, on the grounds of constitutionality and human rights, was hailed by Muslim women of India. Muslim Scholars and Incumbents also welcomed the government’s decision. AIMIM leader Asaduddin Owaisi objected to the imprisonment clause of the Bill and said that the Bill did not meet its primary objective of safeguarding women’s security, chiefly financial. The government stood their ground and said that the victimization of women would be reduced.

Abrogation of Article 370
Government of India scrapped Article 370 in the state of Jammu and Kashmir. Article 370 of the Indian Constitution allowed J&K to formulate its own laws for self-administration. J&K had its own Constitution. Owning of property, getting local government positions, and availing educational scholarships in the state by outsiders was prohibited.

In a state where 67% of the population is Muslim, a chill ran across the community with the abrogation of Article 370. Some Muslims were apprehensive that scrapping of the Act would invite a lot of outsiders to settle in the state and were of the opinion that their privilege was lost in an unconstitutional manner. Whereas, some Muslims praised the decision of the government and asserted that the discrimination against them will no longer exist and their children will have access to better education and economy.

On a different note, the Indian government received criticism for the way in which the whole operation was carried out. Internet shutdown and curb on mobile and telephone services were major contentions for the government.

Do only Muslims live in Jammu and Kashmir? No Hindus? No Buddhists? Why is it viewed like that? It has been abrogated for veryone and not only for Muslims.

– Amit Shah on abrogation of Article 370

Ayodhya Land Dispute
The long-standing Ayodhya Land Verdict that divided Hindus and Muslims of India came in the year 2019 with the Supreme Court stating that the land would be given to Hindus for Ram temple construction and Muslims will get a 5-acre land at a different place to build a mosque.

AIMIM leader Asaduddin Owaisi opposed the SC ordered and said, “There has been discrimination against Muslims and no one can deny it. We are fighting for our legal rights.”. Many Muslims were affirmative about upholding SC’s decision as it was based on evidence and rationale.

Citizenship Amendment Act
Interpretation of the Citizenship Amendment Act, 2019 and the speculation of the National Register of Citizens by some has shaped apprehension that the process is a concentrated effort to drive out Muslims of the country. The Act now provides citizenship to illegal immigrants from certain religiously persecuted minorities.

Ruling party BJP has time and again asserted that the law will not affect the citizens of India. Home Minster Amit Shah said, “In this Bill, there is no proposal to touch the citizenship of any Muslim,”.

Government Policies
In the year 2019 BJP 2.0 has launched and revamped various policies for the upliftment of Muslims. In the Education sector, the government notified merit-cum-means, pre-matric, post-matric, and various other scholarships for minority communities that also include Muslims. The government also started trained more than 750 teachers from Madras so that they can also impart formal education. “Besides traditional teachings in Madrasa, Urdu, Arabic and other languages, Madrasa teachers are also being provided training for mainstream formal education like Hindi, Maths, English, Science, Computer, regional languages etc. These teachers are being provided training from reputed institutions of the country such as IIT, Aligarh Muslim University, Jamia Millia Islamia, Jamia Hamdard, Anjuman-e-Islam, Amity University and other reputed educational institutes,” said Union Minority Affairs Minister Mukhtar Abbas Naqvi.

Government also took interest in digitizing the entire Haj process so as to give the travelers a transparent process. India launched E-MASIHA, an acronym for E Medical Assistance System for Indian Pilgrims Abroad. It was a database of Indian pilgrims’ health conditions. A record-breaking 2 lakh Muslims had visited Haj in 2019.

Waqf properties across India were also brought under digitization by the Indian government. Government has a target of geo-tagging as many as 6 lakh Waqf properties to ensure better utilization of them.

Curiopedia

Triple talaq, also known as talaq-e-biddat, instant divorce and talaq-e-mughallazah (irrevocable divorce), was a form of Islamic divorce which has been used by Muslims in India, especially adherents of Hanafi Sunni Islamic schools of jurisprudence. It allowed any Muslim man to legally divorce his wife by uttering the word talaq (the Arabic word for “divorce”) three times in oral, written or, more recently, electronic form. More Info

The Hajj is an annual Islamic pilgrimage to Mecca, Saudi Arabia, the holiest city for Muslims. It is a mandatory religious duty for Muslims that must be carried out at least once in their lifetime by all adult Muslims who are physically and financially capable of undertaking the journey, and can support their family during their absence. More Info

A waqf, also known as hubous or mortmain property, is an inalienable charitable endowment under Islamic law, which typically involves donating a building, plot of land or other assets for Muslim religious or charitable purposes with no intention of reclaiming the assets. The donated assets may be held by a charitable trust. The person making such dedication is known as waqif, a donor. More Info

Supreme Court Dismisses All Petitions to Review Ayodhya Verdict

A five-judge Bench of the Supreme Court, led by Chief Justice of India (CJI) Sharad A. Bobde, on December 12 dismissed 19 review petitions of the apex court’s November 9 verdict on Ayodhya Ram Mandir case and said, ‘We have carefully gone through the review petitions and the connected papers filed therewith. We do not find any ground, whatsoever, to entertain the same.’

Crux of the Matter
  • The bench led by the CJI constituted of Justices DY Chandrachud, Ashok Bhushan, S Abdul Nazeer and Sanjiv Khanna. 
  • Maulana Syed Ashhad Rashidi, president of the Jamiat Ulama-i-Hind filed a review petition on 14 counts and asked for “complete justice” by directing reconstruction of Babri Masjid.
  • Akhil Bharat Hindu Mahasabha sought a limited review of the verdict against the direction to allot a five-acre plot to Sunni Waqf Board for building a mosque in Ayodhya. It also sought deletion of findings declaring the disputed structure as a Mosque.
  • Review petition filed by the Nirmohi Akhara demanded a clarification on its role and representation in the trust to be set up by the government for the Ram temple construction, was not listed in front of the bench on Thursday as it was filed only on Tuesday.
  • A petition filed by 40 persons which prominently include Irfan Habib, Harsh Mander, Farah Naqvi said the verdict had a direct impact on the secular fabric of the country.
Curiopedia

Ayodhya dispute was a political, historical and socio-religious debate in India, centred on a plot of land in the city of Ayodhya, located in Faizabad district, Uttar Pradesh. The issues revolved around the control of a site traditionally regarded among Hindus to be the birthplace of Rama; the history and location of the Babri Masjid at the site, and whether a previous Hindu temple was demolished or modified to create the mosque. The Babri Masjid was destroyed during a political rally which turned into a riot on 6 December 1992. The SC on November 9 gave its final verdict in the long-pending case and ordered Ram Mandir to be built over the disputed land. More Info